The Bottom Line
If you like large and sharp touch screen displays on your camera, my Nikon Coolpix S80 review showcases a camera that will fully meet that requirement. The S80's OLED (organic light emitting diode) display is one of the best you'll find.
Unfortunately, some of the S80's photographic features and camera controls aren't as impressive as the OLED. For example, the camera's zoom only works through the touch screen, which isn't efficient.
If you want the large screen, I'd suggest you try the S80 before you buy it, just to make sure you can live with the camera's problems. A lower price with this camera would be nice, too.
- Large OLED touch screen is very sharp and very bright
- Sharp looking and thin camera, with several color combinations available
- Focus is sharp and accurate on close-up photos
- Menu structure makes sense and is easy to use
- HDMI slot included for uploading 720p HD video
- It's easy to shoot inadvertent photos because of shutter button placement
- No zoom dial; all control of zoom lens occurs through touch screen
- Only 16:9 ratio resolution is 8MP
- Lens is easy to block with your finger
- Price seems a little high
- Resolution: 14.1 megapixels
- Optical zoom: 5X (35-175mm)
- Display: 3.5-inch OLED, 819,000 pixels, touch screen
- Maximum image size: 4352 x 3264 pixels
- Battery: Li-ion rechargeable
- Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.5 x 0.7 inches
- Weight: 4.7 ounces (with battery and memory card)
- Image sensor: CCD 1/2.3 in.
- Movie mode: 720p HD video
Guide Review - Nikon Coolpix S80 Review
The S80's image quality is a little above average, although it did seem to have some issues with difficult exposures in bright sunlight. You can work around some of the exposure problems by manually adjusting the white balance. Additionally, with flash photos, you may notice occasional problems with washed out images, but the S80's flash works well as a fill flash.
The camera's focus is really good most of the time, and the S80's focus performs especially well with close-up photos.
Overall, for a camera in the sub-$400 price range, I'd like to see a little better image quality, but the S80 will work just fine for everyday photos.
The 5X optical zoom lens on the S80 moves through its magnification levels in a "jerky" motion, which is annoying. Additionally, the only way to control the zoom is through the touch screen, meaning it takes much longer to zoom than it would with a physical dial. I really disliked the lack of a zoom dial.
Nikon included 17 scene modes with the S80, along with a "help" mode where you can see explanations of each scene mode, if needed. Additionally, Nikon included the ability to manually adjust one setting with a slider bar while using a scene mode, which is a cool feature.
The S80's resolution can be set at 14MP, 8MP, 5MP or 3MP, or you can shoot at a 16:9 ratio at 8MP. It's unfortunate that Nikon didn't include more resolution options at the 16:9 widescreen ratio, especially when the large OLED display is perfect for widescreen photos.
The S80's camera body is very thin, measuring only 0.7 inches in thickness, and it's a stylish-looking model with six body colors.
But, without a doubt, the 3.5-inch OLED touch screen is the star feature of the S80. It's extremely bright and sharp, and the touch screen makes this camera very easy to use. When shooting outdoors, you won't have any problems with glare on the screen. The display occupies the entire back panel of the camera, leaving no room for any buttons or dials.
One disappointing aspect of the S80 related to its design is the large number of "oops" photos I inadvertently shot when testing this camera. You turn on the S80 using a large sliding panel (that also uncovers the lens). However, it's easy to accidentally press the shutter button as you move the slider panel. Because you can shoot photos by touching the screen, it's easy to make a mistake and shoot an inadvertent photo. Additionally, because the small lens is in the upper right corner of the camera (as seen from the front), it's easy to block the lens with your left fingers. All of these design issues can result in some "oops" photos.
Finally, controlling on-screen menus without any buttons will take some practice. It sometimes would be easier to work through the menus or select a scene mode if you could use buttons instead of the touch screen.
Still, the S80's large and bright touch screen is so good that it overcomes some of these problems, making it a viable option for beginners.